Question about Sony VAIO VGN-SZ460N/C Notebook

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Sony Vaio VGN-SZ460N Freezes during Full Recovery

Hey everyone -

Sure could use some help on this.

What i have is a stock Sony Vaio VGN-SZ460N - it was dropped and yes some supperfical damage occured - but repairable.

The laptop was given to me due to the damage - but it worked fine software and hardware wise dispite the damage which is one of the hinges isn't attached to the screen. I can fix this easy enough.

Before the computor was handed over to me - the mans Tech guy worked on it - deleting all personal files by way of supposedly doing a system recovery.

didn't work - he interupted power.

Yesterday i received there-covery dvd's from Sony.

Attempting full System Recovery via Vaio Recovery console.

No - go - freezes after attempting to start up windows. Screen states windows could not complete install - to install Windows please start install again." or something to that nature.

I have run all diognostics i could find on the DVD

RAM - HDD read - HDD repair for sectors -

I tried both install with and with out the Vaio recovery system section included - it got farthest through the install with-out the Vaio recovery included -

It has however when this happened added a drive E - (I was attempting to delete the partiions and it added this drive partion instead)

I did do a full delete all data by writting 0 to the drive first.

Last install attempt - got all the way through step 1 - made it to step two up to 82% of software install and froze - 3am! 6th attempt. Let it sit till 11am - still at 82% install -

So - first how do i do a simple deletion of all partions on this laptop and wipe of the drive ? Sony seems to have complicated this process via there DVD's and propriatory software hardware idea.

The freezing - Hardware issue maybe? It does not freeze at the same place each time.

???? what are your thoughts on what could cause this?


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  • 15 more comments 
  • c_canade Jul 14, 2009

    Thanx Crapiemael -

    Will attempt that next and respond

  • c_canade Jul 14, 2009


    While writing this issue tech request - the HDD test and repair completed - conclusion stated: "found problems fix by setting repair options" Apparently i ticked off the repair option after i clicked start of the test.

    Rerunning test and repair of the HDD.
    IF successfull of repair of the HDD - (bad sectors hopefully)
    I will attempt my early steps

    Full erase and write 0's to the drive
    full system restore to factory including Vaio Recovery on drive. Hopeflly this will get rid of the new "E" drive partition it added previously.

    If this fails - i will test re-install via Memory solution given by crapiemael below.

    either way i will respond with an update of the situation.

    It was interesting to note that the Vaio Linear HDD read test from the Vaio Hardware tests did not pick up on any bad sectors of the HDD (if that is what the problems are found by the HDD test and repair of sectors. And will make a mental note of that for future reference.

    Thanx again crapiemael for the response - this will take a bit to complete so i'll respond (update) later - currently running Vaio HDD test and repair again to hopefully fix the HDD problems it found.

  • c_canade Jul 14, 2009

    * Update*
    I attempt the test and repair of the Hard drive - It froze at 31% completion the first time and Froze up at 61% completion the second time.

    I'll move onto removing the MemoryModuals as suggested and test and repair the HD again to make sure it's the HDD and/or not a combination of the two causing the issues. After all this laptop was dropped hard enough to break the left side hindge and crack the casing.

  • c_canade Jul 14, 2009

    *Note - concerning the Bios - No "Optimized setup" to select. But i checked off load factury defaults and saved it anyway. I did notice on the Sony website for this model there is a Bios update - perhaps in the update that is where i'll find the optimized setting as crapiemael mentions. I'll look at the Bios version to make sure it is the latest and update it once i get it running smooth.

  • c_canade Jul 16, 2009

    * UpDate * - I went and picked up a screw driver i needed to access the Memory today. Here's the results... I pulled both sticks. Reseating stick 1 and ran the Vaio test and repair of the HD - it made it all the way through the test and stated " Problems found - attempted repair - repair failed". At least it made it through so onto Memory Modual 2 - Ran Vaio Test and Repair the HD and this time it made it all the way through and stated " HD running fine" (C drive and E drive)....... Replaced both Memory Moduals and ran Vaio Test and Repair again of the HD. Results were it stated again C drive and E drive are running properly. So... i thought okay go for a Complete system Recovery... It did fine on the install (or so it seemed) up to just over half way while installing software ( past the please wait while windows starts for the first time reboots a few times then start copying software to the C drive and installing). I'm kinda at a loss as what to do now...

    for the heck of it - i pulled Memory Modual 1 and am going for a Complete System Recovery again to see what happens since it showed it failed at repairing the drive during the HD Test and Repair with only Modual 1 installed.... any other thoughts suggestions theories???

  • c_canade Jul 16, 2009

    * UpDate * - Pulling Memory Modual 1 and running a Full System Restore didn't work either... quit responding at 82% completion.... As stated I'm at a loss for what it could becausing the issue. It seems to slowly slow down on responding till it stops copletly - seems to happen at teh same locations as well - i noticed - watched the indicator light for the whole process till it quit - been froze for about an hour now at 82% mark so i'm shutting it down, been a long night. Another thing - maybe it will me something... i forgot to plug in the ac adaptor and it powered down during one of the attempts at recovery. it did come up with woruld you like to resume Windows - i clcked yes - however - it locked me out password wise of both the Adminitrator and guest log in. as well when i went to shut it down it stated other users where logged in and using the computor??? I takeit was still attempting to load software?? I jsut thought it was strange about locking me out of admin adn guest when i did a complete erase of the drive with write over of 0's - shouldn't have been any passwords applied to anything - i cleared all from the bios as well well before this.

    As mentioned could sure use some help with this one. Thanx in Advance...

  • c_canade Jul 16, 2009

    *UPDATE* - I've descided after 3 days of trouble shooting this laptop to pull it apart completely, whether this is the best solution or not - i don't know. I'll take the Memory Moduals to Geek Squad or another Comp service place and have them both tested via a hardware RAM Tester - they usually do it for nothing at the computor shows- so hopefully they wil as well. Then i'll know for sure if the ram is good or not. Pull the HD and fdisk it via another older comp i have and fully erase it. Pull the graphics card and reseat it - attempt a reseat of the processor by pushing down on it just to make sure it's seated properly. That is all i can think of to do. If all fails - i was going to upgrade the HDD anyway to a 7200rpm model and the ram if bad i was going to upgrade as well to a tad higher speed. so we'll see what happens if i find out anything or what is causing the issue - i'll report back... wish me luck and thanx

  • c_canade Jul 17, 2009

    *UpDate* crapiemael you should be pleased to know you hit one part of the problem on the head. A bad Memory Modual - and i'd like to thank as well the guys down at CompUSA/TigerDirect for running the RAM test for me (and providing me with some internal screw i needed to hold the palm rest on) There test confirmed as crapiemael suspected - one of the memory moduals was bad. So rather than buy jsut one modual, I opted to go with a matched pair of PNY PC5300 667mhz (they didn't have any PC5400 in stock)- since the CPU FSBus is 667mhz this should be a better match..... Now i had removed the HDD as stated i would and am glad i did go inside - found a palm rest post had come unglued (will repair later) and that the HDD ribbon cable was not fully seated - so i re-seated and reinstalled the drive (with out testing) and installede the new Memory. She booted but i was locked out (remember there hasn't been a complete install yet) But at least i could see the accounts. Attempted a Full system recovery last night - It stoped at 89% completion and held till this morning when i shut it down....... Dispite this failure at complete re-install i attempted a normal boot - it stated as it had previously "windows could not complete the installation and if i would like to install windows shut down." But attempted another boot - this time the welcome screen came up and again i was locked out (your accounts have been disabled to active this device log in) Okay so i booted to safe mode removed the CNet Admin password the install created and she opened up to the user account on normal reboot. Though most everything was "Please log in to enable this device " like the blue tooth or wireless etc..... Back to figuring out why it will not complete the install and freezes up... Hard drive??? I did boot into "Directory systems restore mode - f8) it stated C: drive file format unknown" twice and something else but it was too quick for me to read - if that helps dianosing this.

  • c_canade Jul 17, 2009

    *UpDate* - correction to the above that It should have said ASP.Net account not CNet account - ASP.Net is the Machine administrator account which is i presume auto created during the install which auto password protected the locked the drive. ths is what i had to change in order to gain access in normal boot. I just went back in to safe mode looking for some error log files.

  • c_canade Jul 17, 2009

    *UpDate* This is simply more info for anyone ready this. I wanted to point out that all attempts at Full system recovery have been made thus far with the exception of one attempt via or by opting to keept the Vaio Recovery on the Hard drive. Though it suppose to doa full recovery of that section (E drive) as well. The one that made it furthest throught the full recovery while i had the bad Memory Modual installed was via opting to NOt keept the Vaio Recovery ont he Hard Drive which means using the DVD set to do any Recovery. Also note while i had the system opened up i reseated the DVD drive Graphics card, Blue tooth card as well as pushed down on the CPU to hopefully reseat everything. Anyone attempting this should keep in mind to be careful and have patients - lots of it. The internal is delecate especially the ribbon cables so be sure not to rip or tear them - you'll find probably like they are taped down by packing tape by the manufacturer. or by using insulating tape - be sure these go back on - especially the insulating tape over screws etc. Also for the record - the Reinstall takes forever - mine untill it quits usually 5hrs or more on a 160 gig drive with windows vista business. Why anyone whould bundle 14gigs of software with the OS that has to be installed before completion of the OS installation let alone have an install on a laptop go so far beyone what the battery is capable of powering up is beyond me. I would never recomend this laptop with what i've seen thus far to anyone as far as the install allone is concerned. OS and nessasary hardware softwares should have been seperated from trial software. I probably would have been up and running by now if it were not for the massive installation proscess - which i'm sure frags the drive immensly causing further slow down of the install process..... I'm going to now attempt Ful recovery opting to not use or keep the Vaio recovery on the Drive... We'll see what happens... ???

  • c_canade Jul 17, 2009

    *UpDate* Some further usefull info for those reading this... IF your system DOES NOT complete full system recovery like mine did not, You will not beable to access the drive or accounts as installation locks the drive. You may be able to boot into safe mode - go to user accounts - you'll see " - Default Machine Account". YOu'll notice it is passwrod protected. click change password - remove password - it will change to Standard account. DO NOT change (as i found outthe hard way) the Account to an Administrator account - it will lock you outo f the drive completly including Safe Mode. Also while in safe mode - User Accounts - "Guest Account" is not active - activate it. Now reboot normally - it should allow you in and start setting upthe preferences - though, if like my situation - will not allow access to certain pertainent software stating you need to log in and activate the software you attmept it and it will say - Your account has been disabled. please see admin" - So you may see things like Blue tooth etc. locked and un accessable still ... at least it was for me - you can then attempt a windows start up repair.... whether this works or not for normal or further access to things like the error log files... who knows ??? It may so try it.

  • c_canade Jul 17, 2009

    It should also be noted here that my knowledge of of any version of Vista in nill let alone a Sony Vaio laptop - I've never been on a comp with Vista - this my first experience with any machine using Vista if you know howto navigate Vista you know a lot more than i do. So any things i find out though i'm addingthem here - there may be a better way - i can only let you know what i'm finding as i stuble though this repair attempt. My experience is only 5 days now for any of this conserning Vista or the VGN-sz400 series laptops. And after five days of almost continuous attempts - and extremely late nights with still failures at a clean install Patients -you've got to have patients is the only real sound advice i can give you - even if mine is about wearing thin right about now... ;0) lol

  • c_canade Jul 18, 2009

    *UpDate* last attempt at Full System restore by way of opting to not keept the Vaio Recovery on the HDD and alloting all drive space to "C" drive - failed. Just guesing this could be a Hard drive - and would have picked one up yesterday - but - Unfortuanatly no one in this city or in the tri county area Lauderdale has one in stock - online yes - in stock, no. So this will have to wait. (IMO and for my application - a smaller drive - 80/100/120/160max takes better advantage of the faster spindle speeds [7200rpm] especially for OS and main apps.) They do have the big storage drives 320/500/1tera but, that won't suit IMO for a main drive. Not what i need. And they can't order one even though they carry them online - go figure??? as stated this will just have to wait sadly enough after all this but hopefully this is all that left wrong with this laptop...

  • c_canade Jul 19, 2009

    It didn't do a complete install - up to 96% -

    but i got it about a half hour ago - went though the Vista welcome procedure and sysprep did it's clean up and reboot - running pretty good - though more work needs to be done... tell you more tomorrow. For now, crapiemael let me pour you a beer... and enjoy a bit of this sucess... thanx for replying and the help!

  • c_canade Jul 20, 2009

    WEll teh quick and skinny of this is i dicovered the Memory card reader was a module and pulled it out - not if this has anythig to do with the fact the next Attempt at recovery made it to 96% completion but it did.... from there i used task manager to end the instal process of teh software that wasn't responding (WindDVD at that moment) and end the Restore process.... saw the start menue peaking through the black screen and clicked on the Log out button hopeing it would log out the Default Machine account i mentioned before that the install creates... and it did... then i rebooted... which brought up the Sysprep automatically and she rebooted and brought me into the Vista welcome screen to set up the comp... got lucky i figure and i;m sure there was a couple things i needed in that last 4%... noticing some things today but i'm updating it via sony and windows -so far pretty good - only a couple hangs - one when installing the update to the NVidia Graphics Drivers - froze at the end of install and when i was installing my tablet drivers/software - froze half way through the install. but install the drivers and software so i'm not sure what is up?.... noticed after one of the small updates it ran great... not sure which one but it was a very noticable difference.... I did upgrade the HD to a Hitachi travelstar 320gb 7200rpm 16mg buffer agaisnt my better judgement but partioned it to 146gb for the C drive. Noticed you can't make further partions via the reocvery discs. Only allows one partion to be made - not great for disk management. I'll get a smaller one in the future don't need this size too big for this but will use it as a storag external drive in the future........ Now to figure out what caused the problems - shouldbe easier to test it now and see log files for sure. - i'm happy i at least got it running - with help fo course!!! thanx again. If i find out for sure what caused the issue of Full recovery I'll post it... till then i'm going to enjoy it some - it's been six long days of... lets say a crash course or learning experience.! ;0) talk to you soon

  • c_canade Jul 21, 2009

    *UpDate* The way i managed to get this comp to go into the welcome screen had it downfalls - noticing greyed out areas in some win and vaio progs and services that should - "I believe" be assesable. Like turning off the UAC or Start up apps. Also - it shows 44gigs being used via my computor properties - File tree shows 24.7 gigs. a 20gig difference. I doubt that the install fresh would use up 44.7 gigs. so there is a problem there. So far i haven't been able to loacate the missing 20gigs and i'm not talking about the claimed drive size and actual drive size..... Ran HotCPU testing for 7hrs - CPU - Chipset - HDD - Memory all showed as passed - no errors. Over 3700 Win up date service errors in the logs. Error 4385 i believe if memory serves me correctly.... I also ran CPU ?? which checked voltage clock speed etc - voltage is a tad low - norm according to Intel is 95 my shows 85, Is this enough to cause major issues with install... i don't know... i kinda doubt it as when put under use the voltage shows normal.... My guess is the DVD's Sony sent - are probalby bad, since everything in the system hardwaer wise thus far show good via the tests i ran.... Sony did say if the DVD's were damaged they would repalce them free of charge - hopefully that includes the $7 shipping costs they wanted.... and since i strognly feel that these DVD's should have been included with the comp - when i get the good set - i'm ripping them and posting them to Rapid share and every other File hosting site to share with others.... these will be for the VGN-SZ400 series which includes acording to Sony - the VGN430 thru 91. If anyone has issues with me sharing these DVD's to help others - tough - i paided for them - if i want to share them via online - it's my perogative. willpost links to the locale as soon as i get a good set and upload them. good luck with your VGN-SZ400's

  • c_canade Jul 22, 2009

    *Update* Good News - The Auto update for Vista /Vista Business finally excepted the comps statis for updating to SP1 - I checked the "C" drive and gained back the 20gigs after the update.... I gotta wonder what the Vista SP2 update will do - 25 gigs is still rather large... but it's making headway!!!... which btw - save me the hassle of attmepting the full recovery again as i was contemplating a few hours ago... whew!



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Probably a memory problem even though it doesn't show up on a memory test. Enter the bios and select the option for default setup, "not the optimized setup". Also if you have more then one memory module, remove one and try the install, if you have two try using the one you removed first as the only memory module during the install process. If you have any cards plugged into the computer, remove them all before starting the install. Also all usb cables. Make the system as simple as you can for the new install.

Posted on Jul 14, 2009


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